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Energy and water policy

The issue of energy and water efficiency in both new and existing housing stock is being driven by both central and local government.

Planning policy is already in place to secure high standards of energy efficiency; and due to the geographical location of Cambridge and the issues of water shortages the need for water efficient properties is already being implemented in many new developments.  The Sustainable Design and Construction Supplementary Planning Document provides advice in relation to new developments on a range of issues including energy and water efficiency.

Some key policies and local strategies driving energy and water efficiency at a national and local level include:

National Policy

Home Energy Conservation Act (HECA) report

The Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 (HECA) recognises local authorities’ ability to use their position to significantly improve the energy efficiency of all the residential accommodation in their area. In July 2012 the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) published a requirement under HECA for all local authorities in England to report biennially on the measures they propose to take to achieve this.

This report sets out our current and planned activity to comply with the requirements under the Act.

SAP energy rating and EPC’s

The Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) energy cost rating is the government's recommended system for energy rating of dwellings.  SAP works by assessing how much energy a dwelling will consume, when delivering a defined level of comfort and service provision. It is based on energy costs for space and water heating under standard occupancy, heating pattern and location using average fuel prices.

The current SAP scale is rated from 1 to 100 - the higher the number the better the performance.

Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) give a property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient with SAP rating of 92+) to G (least efficient with SAP rating of 1-20).  It is required for all properties being built, sold or rented and contains information about a property’s energy, typical energy costs and recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money

The current average SAP score for council owned housing stock is 71 (Band C).   The average SAP score for the private sector housing in Cambridge is considerably lower.

For advice on how to improve your home's SAP rating visit the Energy Saving Trust website

Fuel Poverty Strategy for England

The Fuel poverty (England) Regulations 2014 became law in December 2014 under the Warm homes and energy conservation act 2000.  The Fuel Poverty Strategy sets milestones and targets to ensure that, by 31 December 2030 as many fuel poor homes as is reasonably practicable have a minimum energy efficiency rating of Band C.

Supported by non-binding interim targets which include:

  • As many fuel poor homes in England as is reasonably practicable to Band E by 2020
  • As many fuel poor homes in England as is reasonably practicable to band D by 2025

Households living in properties rated below an E level EPC need to spend on average £1,000 a year more on energy to heat their home as compared with typical home.  A duty to adopt a fuel poverty target is delivered through the Energy Act 2013.

Private Rented Sector Energy

New policy is being implemented to help drive the improvement of  the energy efficiency of privately rented properties in the domestic and non-domestic sectors in England and Wales

From April 2016, residential private landlords will not be able to unreasonably refuse consent to a tenant’s request for energy efficiency improvements where Green Deal finance or subsidies are available to pay for them.

From April 2018, private domestic and non-domestic landlords need to ensure their properties reach at least an E EPC rating, or have installed improvements using Green Deal finance or subsidies to pay for them, before granting a tenancy to new or existing tenants. For further information visit the GOV.UK website.

Local Policy

Fuel and Water Poverty Action Plan

The Fuel and Water Poverty Action Plan has been developed in response to the Anti Poverty Strategy which acknowledges the problem of increasing energy and water costs on lower income residents contributing to poverty in the district.  Those on low incomes are most vulnerable as rising energy and water costs mean that the percentage of income being used to cover these utilities bills is increasing; this further reduces wages in ‘real terms’ on already stretched household incomes. Through a series of activities aimed at low income families across Cambridge the action plan seeks to reduce both fuel and water poverty across Cambridge.

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